The Royal Family

When Lee Tabas went public with a letter questioning his brother Robert’s leadership of the family bank in Narberth, he pulled back the veil on a real-life soap opera: a storied, wealthy Main Line family torn asunder by greed, backstabbing and gossip; a colorful patriarch who pitted son against son; and a trail of scandal and lawsuits that has almost everyone not talking to someone else. Meet the Tabases

“My first reaction was, ‘No way, she would never do that in front of her kids,’” says a former employee, who says Susan is a fabulous mom who spent tons of time with her four children, driving them in her white Escalade to sports practices and activities. She also devoted herself fully to her son, Major Corl Tabas Tepper, who was battling cancer, and was with him for all of his treatments at CHOP. “There was a very sweet side to her.”

But like her father, Susan could be charming one minute, screaming the next. And like her father, she thrived on being in control. (She hung poster boards all over her kitchen instructing her staff, step by step, on how to do everything.) She flipped out if the “wrong” person answered the phone, or if a dog dish that needed to be hand-washed was accidentally placed in the dishwasher.

“Everyone stayed around because she compensated them so well,” says the former employee. “Where else were you going to make money like that?” Housekeepers could earn $100,000 a year. One nanny made $5,000 a week.

After the incident, Susan was sentenced to a year’s probation, plus anger management classes. Less than three months later, in May 2007, she allegedly attacked another nanny and the nanny’s nine-year-old daughter, and was arrested again. The family, especially Susan’s sisters, came to her side, though none of them could have been happy that the Tabas Family Saga, which had finally faded out of the press for the first time in decades, was now back in it.

Then Lee had to go and write his letter.

It was as if they couldn’t help it. As if they couldn’t exist without the battles. As if feuding itself was genetic and had to be inherited, along with the money. Maybe Tabases, by the very nature of being ­Tabases, have no choice but to confront. To fight. And sue.

IT WAS SUCH a cute story that no newspaper could resist it — a 10-year-old boy from Philadelphia who wrangled Donald Trump into booking an act at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

But Fitz Daniel Tabas Tepper wasn’t just any 10-year-old. He was the grandson of Daniel Tabas. And like all Tabas boys, he’d started working young — he was “the executive producer” of Fercos Brothers Untamed Illusions. Magic! Dancers! Tigers! Juggling! It helped, of course, that Fitz’s mom Susan, now divorced, was dating one of the Fercos brothers. And it also helped that in 2003, Fitz had the good fortune to hitch a ride with The Donald on Trump’s personal jet, where he first broached the subject of bringing the show to A.C.

Over the next few months, there were many meetings and calls between 10-year-old Fitz and 57-year-old Trump, ironing out the details. The Fercos Brothers opened at the Xanadu showroom in the fall of 2003. Mickey Rooney was in the audience.

Fitz was over-the-moon excited that he actually made it happen. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, though, considering his family, and what each generation inherits from the one before it. As Fitz said at the time, in an article that also went out over a PR newswire, “My grandfather, Daniel Tabas, always said to never quit if you really want something.”   

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